The House voted 150-1 this afternoon to approve changes to state driving laws that ban texting while driving and allow doctors to alert the state that a patient might be a dangerous driver, among other provisions.
Prior to the vote, Republican Donald F. Humason Jr., of Westfield, said from the floor that the ban on texting while driving was designed to prevent people from acting foolishly on the roads.
"It's stupid for you to text while you drive,'' said Humason, who added he drives on the Mass Pike almost daily. "It's stupid for people to do a lot of things that we see people in their cars do. … I've seen some people do some crazy things.''
The proposal now moves to the Senate. Earlier this afternoon, the Senate was poised to vote but an unrelated procedural matter surfaced that led Senate President Therese Murray to reschedule the vote for tomorrow, said David Falcone, spokesman for Senate President Therese Murray.
Once the Senate approves, the measure heads to Governor Deval Patrick who needs to sign it before the proposal can become law. Asked if the governor planned to sign the bill, a Patrick spokesman today sent an e-mail containing the same statement the administration issued on Tuesday.
"The governor has been strongly supportive of efforts to make our roads safer and will review the legislation when it reaches his desk with that goal in mind, '' the statement said.
The House-passed measure includes a ban on cellphone use for drivers under age 18, except in emergencies. The measure also bans texting by all drivers.
"We think this will create an even safer environment going forward,'' Representative Joseph F. Wagner said of the bans. "The message from this day forward in Massachusetts is that texting while driving is not only unacceptable on the roads of the Commonwealth, but will be against the law.''
The bill also provides that drivers who turn 75 years old would be required to renew their licenses in person and take an eye test every five years thereafter.
Representative Kay Khan of Newton also said from the floor that the measure requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to start taking into account the cognitive problems of some drivers, regardless of their age.
"We have many degenerative diseases. We have early onset Alzheimer's (disease),'' Khan said. "Many of these disease can occur at any age. This does not talk about age.''
She said the proposal says that medical professionals cannot be held liable for referring a patient or a client to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, which can then decide to take away their right to drive.
"It's not easy to take away the keys from individuals who are very used to driving,'' she said.
The sole dissenting vote was cast by Representative Dennis Rosa, a Democrat from Leominster. The 62-year-old said in a telephone interview that he told senior citizens in his district that he would vote against any bill that required seniors to show up in person for license renewals.
"I think it discriminates against them,'' Rosa said."I don't think it accomplishes anything. It just infuriates senior citizens.''
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